Andrew Watts is studying in Stockholm. He has been there just a year, having moved from his life in Sydney, Australia to study a Masters in Spatial Design in Konstfack University. At his own admission, his career path since taking his BA in Design Arts (specialising in furniture) back in Australia has been ‘different and all over the place’. After that BA he set up Studio Vaughn Henry and designed furniture. But was then diverted for 3 years or so into logistics, marketing, production, manufacturing and finally hospitality - he owned his own bar in Sydney for a few years - before the move to Stockholm to study.
He was interested in the Spatial Design course at Konstfack partly because it was in Sweden: ‘I’d always wanted to move to Europe. And I’d always wanted to do my masters and get myself over here from Sydney, where the design community was strong but a lot smaller.’ He wanted to explore a different design ethos, one less about the end product aesthetic: ‘This course is about the ethos, thinking and process of developing your own practice. I wanted to find new angles, new ways of thinking.’
Before he moved to Sweden, Andrew concedes he was much more concerned with design in terms of lines, angles, colours - because that was how he’d been taught: ‘Since moving to Stockholm, not just at university but also just the way you speak to people about product design, it’s made me mature very quickly. I’ve learnt all these new ideas and concepts and ways of approaching design. And I’m trying to put all these new ideas together in a way I can take forward.’
‘I really appreciate different points of view. I like to travel and it’s given me different perspectives on what is needed versus what is wanted.’
Andrew Watts, 2019
Having worked in so many different areas, Andrew can feel a coming together of all his different skill sets: ‘Transferable skills are really important to a designer.
I really appreciate different points of view. I like to travel and it’s given me different perspectives on what is needed versus what is wanted. I want to put out things that are valuable to the world. Design in Stockholm comes from a very socially driven framework. Everything is intertwined with that socialist structure in a really positive and successful way. The socialist ethos really comes into design thinking here.’
In terms of what he has bought to the design table (so to speak) in Stockholm, he thinks it is the simple, underrated, gift of conversation. He has reveled in the opportunity to talk about his work, and design in general, sharing information and not feeling he should keep things to himself: ‘I think the best way to find knowledge and to learn new things is just to talk to a person. It’s crazy what you can find out in a 5 minute conversation with someone, that could lead you to a contact that could change your career trajectory for the rest of your life. It’s happened to me with this course, it has completely changed my whole path in the most positive way.’